LILIAN SNELLING AND HER ARTISTIC CAREER
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada
Date; April 21,2014
Lilian Snelling (1879–1972), botanical artist, was born at Spring Hall, St Mary Cray, Kent, on June 8,1879, the third of six daughters of John Carnell Snelling (1841–1902), brewer and maltster, and his wife, Margaret Elizabeth, née Colgalt (1848-1907).
John Carnell Snelling had been born October 23,1841 at St Mary Cray,Kent, In 1871 he was living with his parents and siblings at St Mary Cray and working as a brewer.His father Joseph Snelling(1806-1878) was at that time a miller and land owner. Sometime between 1881 and 1891 John established the St Cray Brewery across the street from the United Reform Church on a site called Spring Hall. Spring Hall was later demolished and became the site of flats by the council. The local springs there served both the house and the brewery. He continued to run his brewery until his death at ‘Iddesleigh’ Derry Downs, St Mary Cray on December 22,1902 leaving an estate valued at 1,776 pounds to his wife Margaret Elizabeth Snelling who he had married 1877 at Camberwell,London.
The 1881 census, taken at St Mary Cray recorded John as a brewer and maltster employing three men and one boy. Living with him was his wife Margaret and his three daughters Margaret Frances, Edith and Lilian; and two servants.
John and his wife sent his young daughters off to a girls boarding school in Tunbridge Wells. The 1891 census, taken at 30 St Johns Road,Tunbridge Wells , was the site of a girls school run by Margaret W. Cronk,age 45, who in that census reported herself as a school mistress. Living with her was her brother Egbert Cronk, age 43, an architect; two servants and eight students. Among the students from the Snelling family were Lilian,Margaret Frances,Hilda Gertrude,Florence M and Beatrice G, all in the age bracket of 7 to 14 years . For further information about the life and career of Egbert Cronk see my article entitled ‘ Egbert Cront-Architect’ dated March 24,2014.
The 1901 census, taken at the girl’s school at 30 St Johns Road records the presence of Lilian Snelling who was listed as a visitor. Also present was Margaret W Cronk, age 55 who was in charge of the school and her brother Egbert Cronk, architect. Also present were just two other girls who were students at the school and two domestic servants.
While Lilian lived in Tunbridge Wells she persued her interest in making drawings and watercolour paintings of local plants. She was often found exploring in the Commons and along the lanes and roads of Tunbridge Wells examining and recording the local plant life. It is to be expected that she also collected specimens and mounted them for study and use in artistic works executed by her at home. Weather conditions in Tunbridge Wells can be tempermental and the detailed work she did required time and it is believed by the researcher that she would have found it difficult to finish painting outdoors, and therefore relied upon her sketches and examples of plants to form the basis of her paintings.
Shown in this article are just two examples of her artistic work. These are composite works now available for purchase as prints. These prints give the name of the plant, the date the image was made and that they were made in Tunbridge Wells. She unfortunately does not give any specific details about where in the town she saw the plant or did the artwork. The internet has hundreds of examples of her work, most of them being a painting of an individual plant rather than a composite one. As you will see from her work, she was certainly a very accomplished artist and while in Tunbridge Wells produced a large body of work before leaving town to persue her career elsewhere. Many of her Tunbridge Wells works are dated 1900 and 1901.Today her original artwork can be found in collections, and offered for sale at auctions or other online sales houses. Some of her paintings have been used by Hunter’s, in the manufacture of their lovely selection of wellies depicting flowers based on the artwork of Lilian Snelling. Examples of them can found on that company’s website.
As a young woman Lilian painted wild flowers in her native Kentish countryside. The Royal Horticultural Society holds a collection of her early paintings, executed at the turn of the century, full of delicate charm and budding artistic talent.
The 1911 census, taken at St Mary Cray,Kent records Lilian as a” painting mistress artist”.She was living at that time with her sister Margaret Frances, age 34, “formerly a bookkeeper now a student of Pitman’s” and her sister Hilda Gertrude Snelling,age 29 who was working as a bookkeeper. All three women were single. Also present in their nine room residence as one servant.
In 1915–16 Snelling painted for her first major patron, the plant hunter and squire Henry John Elwes, who commissioned her to paint the best flowers at his home, Colesbourne, Gloucestershire, which he had gathered on his travels. Despite the fact that her shy nature was out of keeping with her employer's boisterous manner—his booming voice was said to be audible two miles from Colesbourne—she thrived under the encouragement of Elwes, who had a keen eye for good quality botanical illustration. The quality of the paintings executed at Colesbourne can be attributed in part to the ambience of the place, always bustling with activity. Her work from this period demonstrates the influence of the botanical and landscape painter Henry George Moon (1857–1905), whose impressionistic style was then fashionable.
In 1916 Snelling went to work at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, where she focused on honing her botanical accuracy, painting plant portraits under the guidance of Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, the garden's regius keeper and professor of botany in the University of Edinburgh. She continued to paint for Elwes, who sent her plants packed in boxes.
In 1921 Snelling left Edinburgh on being appointed by the Royal Horticultural Society as principal artist and lithographer to Curtis's Botanical Magazine. At Elwes's instigation the society had recently bought the copyright to the failing magazine, and successfully developed it as a publication providing the horticultural world with accurately represented detailed colour illustrations of plants that were new, not well known, or previously inadequately figured. The society decided not to try to issue a volume for 1921, but Reginald Cory (1871–1934) agreed to finance it privately. Snelling illustrated that volume, which finally appeared in 1938.
Snelling studied lithography under Frank Morley Fletcher, better known for his colour woodblock printing. His prints were generally of a small 8 × 8 inch scale, which required meticulously detailed drawing. Fletcher also possessed a deep interest in colour, further complementing the needs of a developing botanical artist. For the magazine Snelling would copy an original watercolour on zinc for reproduction, then colour a plate as a pattern for the colourists until the switchover to colour printing in 1946. She continued to work for the magazine for thirty years, retiring in 1952, and producing over 830 paintings and plates for her own work as well as the other contributing artists. From 1933 to 1940 she also painted twenty-eight of the thirty memorable folio plates for the supplement to Elwes's Monograph of the Genus Lilium (1934–40) and fifteen peonies illustrated in F. C. Stern's Study of the Genus Paeonia (1946).
Snelling's work is reminiscent of earlier masters in its delicacy of touch and accuracy of drawing, but has a modern vibrancy and refinement all its own. She admitted to employing more body colour usage than other watercolourists of her time, and even resorted to coloured inks, particularly magenta for added brilliance. Simple compositions add to the intensity of her art, which often seems to leap off the page. In 1950 her work appeared in an exhibition arranged by Wilfrid Blunt for the National Book League called Flower Books and their Illustrators, which displayed a wide range of material from as early as 1200 through to contemporary work of the period.
Snelling developed into a true master of botanical art, tightening up her distinct technique as she matured; her dedication in the edition of the Botanical Magazine for 1952–3 aptly describes her as ‘artist, lithographer and botanical illustrator … with remarkable delicacy of accurate outlines, brilliancy of colour and intricate gradation of tone … whose technical skill and botanical accuracy are abundantly manifest in all her work’. The portrait included in the volume depicts a shy but quietly confident woman, known among friends for being kind, good company, and having a dry wit. In 1955 she earned the highest horticultural award in Britain, a Victoria medal of honour. She died at her home, 208 High Street, St Mary Cray, Kent, on 12 October 1972. Her parents were buried in the Orpington Churchyard. The cross on their grave reads “John Carnell Snelling December 22,1907 age 61 . Margaret Elizabeth wife of above January 18,1907, age 58.
WILLIAM WREN –ARCHITECT,SURVEYOR AND BUILDER
Written By; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario, Canada
Date: April 21,2014
William Wren was born 1797 at Franfield,Sussex and was baptised there on March 5th at St Thomas & Becket’s Church.He was the son of Ned and Mary Wren.Ned (Edward) Wren had been born 1765 at Framfield,sussex and was christened that year on March 24 at St Thomas & Becket’s Church.Ned and Mary Roffe had been married sometime between 1765 and 1770 in Sussex and together they had nine children
On December 12,1825 William married Hester Councel Shartman (1799-1842)at Southampton, Hampshire. Hester was born May 22,1799 at Soughampton had been christened July 2,1799 in ‘Above Bar’, Southampton in the Congregational Chapel and was christened again May 14,1805 at Southampton. Hester was one of six children born to John C. Shartman (1774-1833) and Hester Gauntelette (1777-aft 1835).
In 1832 William was working as an architect and surveyor.In the 1841 census, taken at Hanover House in Tunbridge Wells William was a carpenter. Living with him was his wife Hester and their children Olivia, age 7; Louisa, age 1 and Hester Shartman Wren (1830-1889). In addition to these children the couple had a son William born 1842 and Searle M born 1849. All five of their children were born in Tunbridge Wells.Hester Shartman Wren went on to marry George Gladwin in 1854 in Tunbridge Wells and with him had six children. There is also a record that of another child by the name of Harriet who married A. Jenkins Ryde of the Isle of Wight.
In 1840 there were only two architects listed in Tunbridge Wells in the Pigots directory, namely William Wren at Hanover House and William Absalom Darby on Grosvenor Road. What buildings William designed is not known.
Hanover House(photo above) still exists today and is located at 18 Mount Ephraim Road,located at the North west corner of Hanover Road and Mount Ephraim Road .It was listed by English Heritage (Grade II) March 26,1973 and is described “as a mid C19 corner building 2 to 3 stys stucoed. Mansard roof with fishscale tiles and 4 pedimented dormers. Moulded eaves cornice and stringcourse. One window in each elevation has “Gothick” glazing. Porch with cornice and plain pilasters (No’s 18 to 24 even form a group). A recent advertisment for Hanover House says it “extends to some 547 sq. m (5,885 sf) and has good onsite parking. The entire is let to Kidsons Impey on a lease expiring in 2016 with tenants option to determine in 2011. The freehold interest was sold to private interests for 1,785,000 pounds”. Hanover House must have been a lodging house for at the time of the 1841 census there were several other people living there besides the Wren family.
In 1842 Williams wife Hester was buried at the Holy Trinity churchyard with two others namely Christopher, who died at age 4 and Edward who died age 4 mths on March 4,1837. Hester had passed away May 17,1842 in Tunbridge Wells, possibly due to childbirth problems. An image of Holy Trinity Church is shown opposite.
On June 13,1846 William Wren,listed as a widower, married May Ann Mallett,spinster, of Holy Trinity district, the daughter of Thomas Mallett, gentleman. The marriage took place at Holy Trinity Church in Islington,Middlesex.
The 1851 census, taken at Hanover House, records William Wren as a builder employing eleven men. There are no further references to William being an architect or survey in Tunbridge Wells and all records after 1851 record him as a builder. Living with William in 1851 was his second wife Mary Ann ; four of his children from his first marriage and a son Searle Mallett Wren born 1849 in Tunbridge Wells from his second marriage.Also in the home were three servants.
The 1861 census was taken at ‘Rock Mount’ where William was listed as a builder employing 8 men. Also present in the home was his wife Mary Ann; two daughters and a son from his first marriage and his sons Searle Mallet Wren and Thomas Mallett Wren, born 1853 in Tunbridge Wells. Also in the home was two domestic servants and a grandson by the name of Walter Wren Gladwin, born 1856 in Tunbridge Wells, who was the son of his daughter Hester Shartman Wren (1831-1889).
Probate records give William Wren late of Tunbridge Wells, a builder, who died July 24,1863 in Tunbridge Wells. The executor of his estate, valued at under 2,000 pounds, was Thomas Mallett of Croydon,Surrey, gentleman, Thomas Gates of Tunbridge Wells, grocer, and Mary Ann Wren, widow, of Tunbridge Wells.
William Wren’s son William born 1842 also became a builder. The London Gazette of May 16,1871 reported on the proceedings of liquidation by agreement with creditors instituted by William Wren, builder of Tunbridge Wells. William is found in the 1871 census at 8 Hanover Road, Tunbridge Wells where he is a carpenter employing two men. Living with him was his wife Agnes, age 29. The 1891 census, taken at #8 Pleasant Road in Cambridge,Cambridgeshire records William as a builder, surveyor and clerk of works. Living with him was his wife Agnes. The 1901 census, taken at Pleasant Villa in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire recorded William as a builder and quantity surveyor on own account. Living with him was his wife Agnes and one servant. Probate records gave William Wren of 10 Castle Street, Cambridge, architect and surveyor, died June 22,1919. The executor of his 882 pound estate was his wife Agnes. Number 8 Hanover Road exists today on the west side of Hanover Road just up the road from Hanover House and is a small white stuccoed terrace.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREER OF JAMES SLEIGH BAYFIELD
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada
Date: April 20,2014
James Sleigh (sometimes Slee) Bayfiled(1828-1908) was the son of a cheese/fishmonger. Born in Islington,Middlesex, he worked in his father’s shop as a young man. Tiring of this line of work he became ,by 1861, a dealer in fancy goods .In the mid 1860’s he moved to Tunbridge Wells and established a photographic studio on the popular High Street. The business however was short lived and he decided to relocate his studio to Hastings where he operated a studio at 25 White Rock Place until about 1872. In the period of 1873 to 1874 he operated his studio at 63 Wesbourne Grove, Bayswater and 10 Wellington Terrace,Bayswater, Paddington. In 1875 he was on the move again, and set up a studio at 19 High Street, Notting Hill, Kensington, where he remained until 1886. In 1901 he retired from business and moved to St Leaonards-On-Sea . He died in 1908 at Lambeth London.
John James Bayfield(1866-1951) was born in Tunbridge Wells and decided to become a photographer. By 1891 he was living at 4 Northcoate Villas,Northcote Road, Isleworth and by 1901 he was at 7 South Croxted Road,Norwood .In the period of 1892 to 1908 worked at the former studio of James Sleigh Bayfield at 37 Gipsey Hill, Norwood.When James Sleigh Bayfield died in 1908 he continued the studio there until 1925, when he then retired from business. John died in Worthing in 1925.
JAMES BAYFIELD’S LIFE AND CAREER.
James was baptised as James Sleigh Bayfield July 17,1836 at Islington, Middlesex. His baptism records show that he had been born July 128,1828 and that his parents were William Henry Bayfield, a cheesemonger, and Caroline Bayfield, nee Sleigh. William Henry Bayfield(1798-1854) had been born November 21,1798 (baptised March 12,1812 at Christ Church,Greyfriars, Newgate,London)in Islington,Middlesex. William had married Caroline Sleigh August 14,1822 at Harrow St Mary. Caroline had been born December 24,1796 at St Sepulchre, London, one of seven children born to Richard Clark Sleigh and Margaret Taylor (1761-1831). William and Caroline are known to have had the following children (1) William Henry, born 1823 (2) Caroline Maria (1826-1882) (3) James Sleigh (1828-1908) (4) Matthew, born 1831.William Henry Bayfield passed away in the 4th qtr of 1854 at Clerkenwell,London.
The Bayfield’s were long- time residents of Islington,Middlesex. James went to school there and when old enough worked in his father’s shop selling cheese and later fish when his father became a fishmonger. The 1841 census, taken at Islington records William Bayfield , born 1796, a fishmonger. His wife Caroline was not with him at the time of the census and was off vising friends. Present in the home was his son James (given as age 15) and his son Matthew, age 10 (given as Mastrena); his daughter Caroline Maria, age 15 and a woman by the name of Rebecca Bayfield, age 30, baron 1801 who most likely was Williams sister.
On October 31,1858 James Sleigh Bayfield married Lydia Battershill at Ramsgate, Kent. Lydia had been born 1836-37 in Ramsgate, Kent and in the 1841 census, taken at Wellington Cottages she and her sisters Agnes, age 10, and Elizabeth, age 15, were living with Mahala Battershill age 50, who was likely her mother. No other reliable records for Lydia could be located.
After the marriage James and his wife moved to Islington,Middlesex and James opened a business as a dealer in fancy goods. The 1861 census, taken at Coleman Street, St Stephens, Middlesex recorded James Bayfied, born 1832 Islington, as a dealer in fancy goods. Living with him was his wife Lydia ,age 24. This business did not last long, for by 1864 James and his wife had moved to Tunbridge Wells where James established a photographic studio on the popular and fashionable High Street.
Shown here and above are four examples of CDV’s produced at James studio on the High Street. Note that in one pair of images that a man is shown in one view and a woman in the other, both standing beside the same photographic prop. It is likely that they are man and wife but of this one cannot be certain for James would have used the same staged scene for many photos taken in his studio. The backs of his CDV’s are quite plain, compared to cards by other photographers, which in many cases were quite ornate. His card backs at this time simply gave “Jas S. Bayfield, Photographic Artist, High Street, Tunbridge wells”. Card backs later in his career at other locations became far more decorative.
The 1867 Kelly directory gave the following listing “ James Bayfield, photographer, High Street, Tunbridge Wells”. There was no listing for him in Tunbridge Wells in the 1862 Kelly directory.James did not operate his studio in the town for long, as by 1871 he was living in Sussex.
The 1871 census, taken at St Andrew, Sussex, recorded James Bayfiled, age 39, as a photographer. Living with him was his wife Lydia, age 34 and one servant. The records of Photo London record James in Hastings, Sussex from 1864 to 1870 but that record is in error for it is clear that James was still in Tunbridge Wells in 1867.
Shown here is the front and back of a CDV of James Sleigh Bayfield taken at his studio at 25 White Rock Place, Hastings. The backs of his CDV’s were quite decorative. White Rock Place was a popular seaside spot for photographers .At the time James was there at No. 25, photographer Frederick Treble was at No. 21 and Henry J. Godbold was at No. 22. James studio at No. 25 was later occupied by well –known Hasting photographer Henry James Godbold from 1889 to 1895.
Shown above is a street view of 38 White Rock Hastings with the shop awnings bearing the names of the businesses.
James did not remain long in Sussex, for examples of his CDV’s show he had relocated to Paddington,London and established at studio at 10 Wellington Terrace on Bayswater Road in Paddington.Shown here is an example of the front and back of one of his CDV’s from that location. Other examples can be found on the internet. The records of Photo London state that James had a studio at 63 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, Paddington from 1873 to 1874 and that at that location he had taken over the studio of L. Dietrichson. I was unable to find any examples of CDV’s for James at that location. The same source reports that from 1875 to 1886 James had a studio at 10 High Street and that in 1886 the studio was offered for sale in July 1886 and taken over that year by photographer T. Fall.
The 1881 census, taken at 10 High Street, Kensington, London, recorded James Bayfield as an artist, no doubt meant to refer to him as a photographic artist. Living with him was his wife Lydia, age 45 and his nephew William Bayfield, age 27, born 1854 at Islington, also an artist. It is expected that William was a photographic artist working with James in his studio.
Examples of the photographs taken by James Bayfield can be found in the National Portrait Gallery and other examples can be found in the National archives. Other examples of his CDV’s come up for sale on such websites as eBay.
James Sleigh Bayfield retired from photography upon the sale of his studio in 1886 and spent his retirement years living at St Leonard, Hastings. When his life Lydia passed away was not determined but in the 4th qtr of 1895 he married Sarah Elizabeth Ives.
The 1901 census, taken at St Leonard, Hastings records James S. Bayfield, age 70, living on own means. Living with him was his second wife Sarah Elizabeth Bayfield,age 31. Sarah was born May 20,1870 at Chertsey, Surrey and was one of four children born to Thomas and Elizabeth Ives. Sarah had been baptised at Cherstsey June 26,1870.In 1891 Thomas Ives was a painters labourer; his wife a laundress; his son Thomas Henry, a carpenters journeyman; his son George Edward, an errand boy and Sarah Elizabeth Ives was a domestic servant.
Death records give James Sleigh Bayfield, born 1832 died July 1908 at Lambeth,London.Probate records however give that James Sleigh Bayfield was of 37 Gipsey Hill,Surrey when he died July 26,1908. The executor of his 2,025 pound estate was John James Bayfield, photographer. The address of 37 Gipsey Hill shows up in the records of the National Archives which has a photograph taken by James at 37 Gipsy Hill, London.
JOHN JAMES BAYFIELD
John was listed in the probate records of James Sleigh Bayfield in 1908 as his executor but his family relationship was not given and was just identified as ‘photographer’. At the time of his death James Sleigh Bayfield was of 37 Gipsey Hill. London which according to the National Archives was the studio location for James Sleigh Bayfield. The records of Photo London for John James Bayfield have him occupying a studio at 37 Gipsey Hill, Norwood from 1892 to 1925 and that he was the successor to W. Frost and that he was succeeded by S.S. Walbridge. The same records gives that the 1891 census recorded John James Bayfield at 4 Northcoate Villas, Northcoat Road, Isleworth and that he was living at 7 South Croxted Road, Norwood in 1901 and that he died at Worthing in 1951.
John James Bayfield was born in the 3rd qtr of 1866 in Tunbridge Wells and was the nephew of James Sleigh Bayfield.John was the son of William Henry Bayfield(the brother of James Sleigh Bayfield) and Sarah Bayfield.
The 1861 census, taken at hackney St John,Middlesex recorded William Henry Bayfield . Living with him was his wife Sarah Salmon, born 1829 at Dunow,Essex and his children William Henry, born 1854 London; Mary, born 1856 London and his sister in law Lydia Salmon, born 1839 at High Eater,Essex.
Sometime between 1856 and 1867 the Bayfield family moved to Tunbridge Wells.The 1871 census, taken at 32 High Street,Tunbridge Wells recorded Sarah Bayfield, age 45 running a fancy goods business. Living with her was her children Mary, age 15 and John James Bayfield, born 1867 Tunbridge Wells, who at that time was attending school. Also in the home was Mary’s sister Lydia Salmon.Mary at that time was a widow.Shown below is a postcard view of High Street in the vicinity of No. 32. Shown at No. 37 High Street is Paynes Jewellery shop (the one with the clock hanging over the sidewalk).
The 1881 census, taken at 9 Grove Hill Road,Tunbridge Wells, recorded Sarah, age 56, widow as a lodging house keeper. Living with her was her son John James Bayfield and her sister Lydia Salmon. John at that time was a scholar. Sarah Bayfield died in Tunbridge Wells in 1894. Shown below is a postcard view of the intersection of Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant Road. Number 9 Grove Hill road was just up from the corner. Grove Hill Road at that time and for many years before and after 1881 was the location of many boarding houses, as well as the location of the Adversiter on the corner and the Courier just up the road on the left. This postcard view was made by local photographer Harold Camburn.
On September 3,1900 John married Agnes Matilda Catherine Amslie white at Upper Norwood All Saints with St Margaret. John was given as a bachelor, and a photographer of 37 Gipsey Hill. Agnes was a spinster, born 1867 in Ireland, the daughter of George White, an editor. Johns father was given as William Henry Bayfield ,deceased, private secretary.the address of 37 Gipsey Hill was the location of John’s portrait studio in Norwood.
The 1901 census, taken at Lambeth. London, recorded John Bayfield, age 34, born Tunbridge Wells, a photographer employing others. Living with him was his wife Agnes who was working as a hospital nurse. Also there was Johns nephew Alan Netelle, born 1895 London.A 1902 Kelly directory gave “John James Bayfield, photographer,37 Gipsey Hill, London”.
The 1911 census, taken at 7 South Croxted Road, Dulwich recorded John James Bayfield, age 44, a photographer. Living with him was his wife Agnes, a trained nurse. The census records that they had been married 11 years and had no children and that they were living in a residence of seven rooms.
John James Bayfield continued to live at the above address and had his photo studio at 37 Gipsey Hill, Norwood until 1925 when he retired and his studio was taken over by S.S. Walbridge. John died in Worthing in 1951. Shown above is a booklet of 6p photographic views of Norwood, in which is stated by the seller, some photos by John James Bayfield. The researcher was unable to find any examples of CDV’s by John.
THE DOUGHTY FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS
Written By; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada
Date: April 16,2014
The central figures in this article are Charles Doughty and his two daughters Dorothy and Freda. Charles came from a wealthy family in Suffolk and after graduating from University became a world traveller, explorer and author. After returning to England in the 1870’s he married in 1886 and then moved to Italy where his two daughters were born in the 1890’s. Returning to England the Doughty family took up residence in Tunbridge Wells in a nice 2 sty home on Beulah Road where they lived in the early 1900’s . By the 1920’s the family lived in Sissinghurst, Kent, where Charles died in 1926. Charles wife and his two daughters continued to live in Sissinghurt until about 1943 when the spinster daughters moved to a large cliff top home at Falmouth,Devon. Dorothy had been educated in the arts and became a keen naturalist and ornithologist.She studied and modelled birds and with her sister Freda, an accomplished modeller of childrens figurine characters, worked with the ceramics firm of Royal Worcester to produce a large line of limited edition plates and figurines of birds, plants and children. These two women were remarkably talented and the figures they designed became extremely collectable, and now valuable.
In 2009,in connection with the Camden Road Project, a play was performed in Tunbridge Wells called ‘The Vanishing Elephant’ featuring characters of local historical importance, among which was Dorothy Doughty, and artist, and one time resident of 2 Beulah Road.
This article traces the history of the family, and as the story unfolds, focuses on the lives and careers of the two Doughty sisters .
THE FAMILY ROOTS
The story begins at Theberton Hall in Theberton, Suffolk the seat of the wealthy Doughty family and in the 1840’s the residence of Rev. Charles Montague Doughty (1798-1850) and his wife Frederica Beaumont Hotham (1808-1843). Theberton Hall (photos opposite) was described as “a handsome white Italian style brick mansion in a well-wooded park of nearly 100 acres, built in 1792 by George Doughty, esq.This home was stated to “command a fine view of the sea, which is three miles distant”. The Doughty family were benefactors of St Peter’s Church, Theberton and in that church can be found a monument, in the form of a stained glass window, erected to the memory of Frederica Doughty, the wife of Rev Charles Montague Doughty, at who’s expense many of the improvements to the church were made.
Charles and his wife had two sons. Their eldest son was Henry Montague Doughty (1841-1915), who upon the death of his father inherited the Theberton estate. Henry had been born at Theberton Hall and in 1877 the National School was erected at a cost of 335 pounds on a site given by Henry, the lord of the manor of Theberton.Henry went on to be a J.P. and Barrister-at-law with an office at Lincoln’s Inn, London.He had been born March 15,1841, the eldest son of the Rev. Charles Montague Boughty, by his wife Frederica, third daughter of the Rev. Frederick Hotham, commonly known as the Honourable and Reverend Frederick Hotham.Henry was married August 21,1860 to Edith Rebecca Cameron(1843-1870), the only daughter of D. Cameron, Chief-Justice of Vancouver Island, British Columbia (Canada). Henry and his wife had two sons namely Charles Hotham M Doughty-wyle VC CB CMG (1868-1915) and Henry Montague Doughty (1870-1921). Henry and his family had lived in London in the early years but by 1881 was residing back at Theberton Hall, where he died January 27,1916.
The second child of Rev Charles Montague Doughty was one of the central figures of this story, namely Charles Montague Doughty(1843-1926).The story of his life is given in the next section. Shown above is a photo of the family home at Theberton Hall.
CHARLES MONTAGUE DOUGHTY (1843-1926)
Charles was born August 19,1843 at Theberton Hall, Theberton,Suffolk and was the youngest son of Rev Charles Montague Doughty( 1798-1950) and Frederica Beaumont Doughty, nee Hotham(1808-1843).Charles was baptised August 31,1843 at Theberton.
The 1851 census, taken at Laleham,Middlesex records Charles as one of a large number of boys attending a boarding school. The 1861 census, taken at 22 St. Ann Villas, in Kensington,London recorded Henry Montague Doughty, age 20, a landed proprietor as head of the home. Living with him was his wife Edith and his brother Charles Montague Doughty, a freeholder. There was also one servant in the home.
Charles attended Cambridge University. The University gives the following information. “ Charles Montagu. Doughty …….College:CAIUS .Entered:Michs. 1861 .Died:20 Jan 1926 .More Information:Adm. pens. (age 18) at CAIUS, Sept. 30, 1861. [2nd] s. of Charles Montagu (above), clerk, of Theberton Hall, Suffolk. [B. Aug. 19, 1843.] School, King's College, London. [Naval School at Portsmouth (Who was Who).] Matric. Michs. 1861. Migrated to Downing, Oct. 8, 1863; B.A. (Downing) 1866; M.A. (Caius) 1869; Hon. Litt.D. 1920. Hon. Fellow of Caius, 1907. Hon. Litt.D. (Oxford) 1908. Studied in Leyden and Louvain on leaving Cambridge. Spent 1863-4 alone in Norway, studying glacier action, and a paper of his on this subject was read at the British Association Meeting in 1864. Travelled, as a poor student, in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, North Africa, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. Joined a pilgrim caravan to Mecca, and travelled for many years in Arabia. Returned to England, 1878, broken in health. Addressed the R.G.S. on his travels, Nov. 26, 1883. In 1912 received the R.G.S. Royal Founder's Medal. Author of Travels in Arabia Deserta (1884), in which he contributed much to Western knowledge of Arabia. Was the first to record accurately the true direction of the great watercourses of Wadi Hamd and Wadi er-Rumma. This work was issued by the Cambridge University Press after it had been refused by four other publishers, one of whom wrote that ‘it ought to be practically re-written by a practised literary man.’ At first only scholars appreciated its value and the style of its writing; but in 1908 an abridgment was published by Mr Edward Garnett under the title of Wanderings in Arabia which brought much appreciation. In 1921 Travels in Arabia Deserta was re-issued with a new preface by the author and an introduction by T. E. Lawrence, which was accepted as a classic of travel. The rest of his life was given up to poetry, and he lived a recluse's life, first on the Riviera, and after 1899 at Tunbridge Wells, Eastbourne, and from 1923 at Sissinghurst, Kent. Hon. Fellow, British Academy. His published poems were, Dawn in Britain, 1906; Adam cast forth, 1908; The Titans, 1916; The Cliffs, 1909; The Clouds, 1912; Mansoul, or the Riddle of the World, 1920. Died Jan. 20, 1926, at Sissinghurst. Brother of Henry M. (1860). (Venn, II. 355 and Addenda; Burke, L.G.; Who was Who, 1916-28; D.N.B., 1922-30; The Times, Jan. 22, 1926; D. G. Howarth, Life of Doughty.)
In a book , one of many about Charles life , entitled ‘The Obstinate Mr Doughty’ by Anthony T. Sullivan it was written “Charles Montagu Doughty was the most obstinate of men. His bull-headedness led him to disregard the wise admonitions of men who knew better to stay away from then-unknown Arabia. He paid a terrible price for not listening: two years of suffering from intense heat, starvation, thirst, and the constant threat of death as an outsider without the tribal affiliations that were a man's only insurance policy. Once embarked, well-meaning companions warned Doughty to conceal his Christian faith beneath the pretence of being a Muslim. Doughty's Victorian principles were offended by the suggestion, and he lost few occasions to declare his adherence to what he believed was a superior religion. Again he paid dearly. He was maltreated, spat upon, beaten, and on several occasions narrowly escaped death for his profession of an alien faith.
When he finally—and miraculously—emerged alive from the desert, he determined against all advice to record his experiences in an artificial blend of Chaucerian and Spenserian English, to the disgust of his friends and the utter indifference of publishers. But then, to the astonishment of everyone, himself included, he produced a literary masterpiece that has outlived them all: Travels in Arabia Deserta.
To his critics, he was arrogant, humorless, self-righteous and mulish. He was also the author of a masterpiece that outlives them all.
It would be gratifying to report that all along Charles Montagu Doughty was as misunderstood as his book, when it first appeared—that he was merely a shy, polite, solitary scholar with a bent for science. Alas! He was all of that, but also an arrogant, humorless, self-righteous man and, ever and always, mulish in disposition. Were it not for his classic account of Arabia, for those two passionate years out of the four-score that he lived, Doughty would have died in well-deserved obscurity.
At least he was born into obscurity, of a line of conservative Suffolk churchmen whose narrow horizons the young Doughty strove to extend by a career in the Navy. A speech impediment crushed that ambition, and the young man instead entered Caius College, Cambridge, in 1861. He was unremarkable both in scholarship and appearance, with an ordinary pale Anglo-Saxon face, rather large and full lips, deepset eyes with hair parted slightly off-center and of a length that is today once again popular at Cambridge. One of his teachers remembered that "he had a very disheveled mind. If you asked him for a collar he upset his whole wardrobe at your feet."
He soon manifested a considerable interest in geology, and an essay describing his year's exploration of Norway's Jostedals-Brae glaciers received some professional recognition and marked the awakening of a life-long interest in research. But even that interest was eclipsed by the study, once he had been graduated from Cambridge, of early English literature at Oxford's Bodleian Library. "Nearly 60 years in all," he later confessed, "I have given to the tradition of noble Chaucer and beloved Spenser."
Wikipedia states that Charles “was an English poet, writer, and traveller born in Theberton Hall, Saxmundham, Suffolk and educated at private schools in Laleham and Elstree, and at a school for the Royal Navy, Portsmouth. He was a student at King's College London, eventually graduating from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1864.His works include “Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888)The Dawn in Britain (1906)Adam Cast Forth (1908)The Cliffs (1909)The Clouds (1912)The Titans (1916)Mansoul or The Riddle of the World (1920).
Another good source of information about Charles is ““God’s Fugitive-the Life of C.M. Doughty 1999 by Andrew Taylor, a biography of the man.,by Andrew Taylor (Dorset Press, 1999). Much has been written about Charles and many libraries have books about him and there is a considerable amount of information also available online.
On October 971886 Charles married Caroline Amelia McMurdo (sometimes given as M’Murdo), the daughter of General Montague M’Murdo, Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath. They had been married at Kensington St Mary Abbott, Middlesex and after the marriage they took up residence at Ospedaletti,Italy.Charles and his wife had two daughters while living in Italy, namely Susan Dorothy Doughty (1892-1962) and Frederica Gertrude Doughty (1894-1972). Details about his two daughters are given in the next section of this article.
In 1899 Charles , with his wife and two daughters moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence at 2 Beulah Road, a nice middle/upper class part of town. Shown opposite is a recent photograph of 2 Beulah Road. It’s a fine looking two story white Victorian style home, very similar to most others on the road, built about the same time. It is the presence of the Doughty family at this residence that led to the inclusion of Dorothy (Susan Dorothy Doughty) as one of the characters in the 2009 play ‘The Vanishing Elephant’. What began as a large single family residence became in the latter half of the 20th century a 6 flat residence that today is known as ‘Edbury Court’, which name in given on the building above the front entrance. This residence is located on the north side of Beulah road just a few hundred feet from the intersection of Beulah with St James /Carleton road. The location of the home can be clearly seen on the 1907/1909 OS map of the area.While living in Tunbridge Wells Charles wife took an interest in gardening and by all accounts their garden was quite lovely, set out in beds of flowers with a nice selection or ornamental shrubs and trees. Although not a large property it served their needs and the spacious home gave them a peaceful environment. Charles two daughters attended a local girls school and in their spare time nurtured their interest in nature studies and the two of them would wander about the commons and other parts of town making sketches of birds and plants. As noted earlier Charles authored at least three books while living in Tunbridge Wells and by this time he was in his 60’s.
The telephone directory and the 1901 census records the Doughty family at 2 Beulah Road and they are listed there in a 1903 Kelly directory. They left this residence in about 1908 and moved to Eastbourne,Sussex.
In 1909 Charles was living at 1 South Cliff Avenue in Eastbourne,Sussex.The 1911 census, taken at 26 Grange Road, in Eastbourne,Sussex, records Charles, age 67 .Living with him was his wife Caroline ; his two daughters “Susan Doughty” and Frederica Gertrude Doughty . Also in their 16 room residence was three servants. All four members of the Doughty family are living on “private means”.
In 1923 Charles , his wife, and two daughters moved to Sissinghurst, Kent where they took up residence in a fine home called ‘Merriecroft” This rather quaint cottage style home is today a museum.The website of the museum gives “ Merriecroft is a country home housing a gallery showing exciting contemporary art in a stylish domestic setting. Merriecroft is locate at the T-junction of Common road (B2083) with The Common on the A229 at Sissinghhurst. “ Show here is a recent photo of Merriecroft.In 1922 the home had been the residence of a Mrs Ellis.
Probate records give Charles Montague Doughty of Merriecroft, Sissinghurst, Cranbrook, Kent, who died January 20,1926. The first probate of his will was on May 11,1926 in which his wife Caroline was the executor of his 4,691 pound estate. The second probate of October 29,1927 was limited to settled land valued at 62,500 pounds and this time his executors were Robert Maissy Dawson Sanders and Charles Arthur Webb, esquires.
The following obituary was published “OBITUARY from ‘Nature’ Feb 6,1926…Mr. C. M. Doughty… WE regret to record the death on January 20 of Mr. Charles Montagu Doughty, the famous traveller in Arabia and poet, at Sissinghurst, Kent, at eighty-two years of age. Mr. Doughty was born on August 19, 1843, at Theberton, Suffolk. He was educated at Portsmouth, and later, on failing to enter the Navy, with which he was closely connected through his mother’s family, he went to King’s College, London, and Caius College, Cambridge. He took his degree, however, from Downing, to which he had migrated from Caius, obtaining second-class honours in natural science (geology) in 1865. During his career as an undergraduate he had shown a taste for antiquarian exploration, which he continued after taking his degree, spending some years in travelling and study. In 1866 he published a short pamphlet on the Jöstedal-Brae glaciers of Norway, where he had spent a year as an undergraduate. In 1870 he went to Holland, where he acquired Dutch and Danish, thence to Italy, Spain, and Greece, crossing over to Palestine a year later.”
Charles,his wife, and two daughters were all cremated with their ashes deposited at Golders Green, Greater London. A plaque marking their passing is shown above as is a photo of Golders Green. It is interesting to note that although his daughter Freda is recorded at Golders Green that her name is absent from the plaque. It is believed that this is due to the fact that Freda was the last to die and it was no doubt her that arranged for the plaque and she made no provision for her name to be added to it.
After Charles passed away his wife Caroline and her two daughters continued to live at Merriecroft. A 1934 Kelly directory, for example, lists” Mrs Doughty,Merriecroft,Sissinghurst”. While living there her daughters Dorothy and Freda continued with their artistic interests in nature studies, most notably Dorothy, who took a greater interest in ornithology and nature in general that Freda, who preferred human subjects. Sissinghurst was not a large place, for in 1934 it was described as a hamlet and ecclesiastical parish founded in 1839 comprising about one quarter of the civil parish of Cranbrook, located about 4-1/2 miles from Staplehurst Station with a population in 1931 of only 963 souls. By 1933, as you will read later, Dorothy Doughty’s artistic works became noticed and when the American publisher Alex Dickens approached Royal Worcester to made bone china models of American birds, Royal Worcester designed a series of birds .Freda, who was more of a modeller than Dorothy was resulted in a design and modeller partnership that lasted for most of the remainder of their lives.
By 1943 Caroline Amelia Doughty and her two daughters moved to Falmouth Cornwall (postcard opposite), taking up residence in a large home on the cliffs overlooking the sea, a short distance from a boys orphanage home, that as you will read later , played an important part in the life and work of the Doughty sisters, particularly Freda.
Caroline Amelia Doughty died at Falmouth, Cornwall on March 3,1950 and as noted earlier was cremated and her ashes interred with those of her husband at Golders Green in Greater London. Probate records give Caroline as being of Carmino on Sea View Road in Falmouth,Corwall, The executor of her 9,430 pound estate was The Westminster Bank Limited. After her death her two daughters continued to live and work from their studio in this residence and remained there the rest of their lives. Susan Dorothy Doughty , a name given to her at birth and which is the name given in her probate records, is most widely given by her and others as simply Dorothy Doughty. She died as a spinster October 7,1962. She was of Carmino Sea View Road, Falmouth, but died at The Royal C ornwall Infirmary in Truro. Her sister Frederica Gertrude Doughty, referred to most often simply as Freda, outlived all of them and died in 1972 at Falmouth.
The continuation of the lives and careers of Dorothy and Freda are given in the next sections. I begin firstly with a brief biographical sketch of Dorothy.
DOROTHY SUSAN DOUGHTY
Shown opposite is a photo of Dorothy taken while living and working at Falmouth,Cornwall. Some examples of her work are also shown.
Dorothy Doughty was born in San Remo, Italy in 1892.Her father was the explorer and poet, Charles Doughty.Dorothy studied at Eastbourne School of Art and became a keen naturalist and ornithologist. In 1933 the American publisher, Alex Dickens, encouraged Royal Worcester to make large, bone china models of birds to sell in limited numbers. Dorothy Doughty designed a series of birds for the American market working from the studio in Cornwall, which she shared with her sister, Freda. Dorothy had never worked in clay before, but was determined to make the birds as life-like as possible. She wrote, "My work with the birds has been a joyful thing. In this tortured world one of the happiest ways of spending a life is to work closely with nature. Although the miraculous perfection of birds and flowers, and indeed all wild things, is beyond the power of man to portray in any medium, he or she who strives towards it, learns to see even more deeply, to glimpse something of the Infinite, and to feel a privileged and very humble person." In the 1930's, china models of this complexity had never been made before. Technical innovations and new skills were developed in mould-making, casting, propping and decorating to reproduce the birds. Special mat colours were developed to give the birds a life-like appearance. Flower making was supervised by Antonio Vassalo and after 1938, by Mary Leigh. Bob Bradley was in charge of casting and fitting up the first standard models, which were painted by George Evans and Harry Davis. On her visits to the Worcester factory to keep an eye on the production of her models, Dorothy made a deep impression on the staff. She was very firm about what she wanted and highly critical of anything she didn't like, but she always insisted that the birds were the result of a team effort. Dorothy was ultimately dependent on the many anonymous craftsmen and women who translated her models into permanent ceramic form and she never tired of paying tribute to their skill and patience. During the War years production of the Doughty Birds continued (alongside resistors and spark plugs), as it was vital for Britain to earn dollars through the sale of luxury goods to the American market. After the war Dorothy and her sister moved to Falmouth to a cliff-top house with a garden studio, whose walls were lined with birdcages. Dorothy made two visits to America, in 1953 and 1956, to study birds in their natural habitat, making sketch models in paper, wire and twigs, to spontaneously capture their character. In 1957 the Queen presented a pair of Parula Warblers to President Eisenhower and Dorothy was greatly honoured at this Royal seal of approval. Thirty-six pairs and three individual models of American Birds were designed between 1933 and 1960. A full account of the production of the birds is given in the book by George Savage, The American Birds of Dorothy Doughty, which was published by Royal Worcester as a limited edition of 1500 copies in 1962. Towards the end of her life Dorothy also designed a series of twenty-one British birds, which were not put into production until after her death in 1962, and a set of twelve collector's plates that were modelled in relief.
THE WORCESTER FACTORY
Worcester Artists Susan Dorothy Doughty (1892-1962) and Frederica Gertrude Doughty (1894-1972) probably did more to ensure the future prosperity and stability of the Royal Worcester factory than any other Worcester artists or modellers. Shown opposite is an interior view of the factory. Shown below are more examples of Dorothy's bird figurines.
Born in San Remo, Italy, Dorothy and Freda were the daughters of Charles Doughty, the English poet and traveller (The author of ‘Arabia Deserta’and the inspiration for Lawrence of Arabia ).
I have already outlined where the Doughty family lived over the years and how the two sisters became interested in certain artistic work that formed the basis for their long careers.Their father Charles had died in 1926 and the Doughty sisters, neither of whom had married, carried on in the same house.
Freda Doughty ran childrens modelling lessons from the house always full of bright, hopeful and cheerful boys and girls. She would frequently use them as live models for the ceramic figurines that she fired in her own kiln.
Dorothy Doughty studied at the Eastboune College of Art where she became a keen naturalist and ornithologist and would paint plasticine models of local bird life.
The late 1920s were not a good time for Royal Worcester.In an attempt to reverse their financial difficulties the company decided to invest their efforts in the production of a brand new range of figurine and animal studies.
Following the employment of various freelance modellers ( Baker, Bray, Cane, Crofts, Lindner, Stabler, Williams and Freda Doughty ) an exhibition to show off the new figures, was set up in a London Art Gallery.
Freda Doughty’s models of young children at play were thought to be old fashioned, both by modellers and the factory workforce.They looked out of place compared to some of the more ‘avant garde’ almost abstract figures produced by many of the others at the show. However, people decide what they buy and they took Freda’s little children to their hearts.Freda Doughty’s models sold in good numbers whilst many of the other Worcester pieces remained unsold.
In 1934 Royal Worcester’s art director, Mr Gimson, approached fine art publisher Mr Alex Dickens about producing a series of service or cabinet plates featuring images from the ‘Audubon Birds of America’, book. These were to be issued in a limited edition and although a totally new venture for Worcester, it was a roaring success.
Following the Audubon plate series Mr Dickens approached the company about producing a series of natural studies of American birds in their native settings. The birds had to be realistic figures and he insisted that they be done in a matt finish to maintain that realism. Mr Gimson agreed with the idea and, even though the idea of a matt finish was an unusual one, said that the Worcester factory could do it.
Freda Doughty had by now released many more models, all eagerly accepted by the public, and had become one of the most successful Worcester artists.Her output was almost entirely figures of small children at play but as a very versatile sculptor Mr Gimson approached her about the preliminary models in the American birds series.Whether or not Freda Doughty felt up to the task is not recorded but she introduced Mr Gimson to her sister Dorothy explaining that her knowledge of birds, artistic skills and memory for minor detail would make her the more obvious choice for the job.
Dorothy Doughty was not used to producing models for later ceramic production and Freda had to show her how her own plasticine models were cut up to produce the required moulds for slip casting and how the pieces were then put together again. There was no thought, at this time, of Dorothy making life studies and her first model of Redstarts on Hemlock had to be produced from photographs of the birds and flowers.The outcome was adequate but lacked the vibrancy of her later models and only 66 pairs were ever made.
Dorothy’s next pair of birds, American Goldfinches on Thistle, were an improvement. 250 pairs were made and they were good enough to make Mr Gimson and Alex Dickens continue with the series. However, it quickly became apparent to Dorothy that the slip casting method of manufacture, while ideal for the birds themselves, had its limitations when used for the delicate flowers and foliage that had to accompany them. Dorothy Doughty was on a steep learning curve and spent a great deal of time at the factory watching and talking to the craftsmen there.The answer to her problem came when she met Antonio Vassalo, a Maltese craftsman who was turning out beautifully delicate little flowers and leaves by hand moulding. Antonio Vassalo was the only person at the Worcester factory capable of making these little masterpieces.Mr Gimson was reluctant to give his services over to Dorothy’s line of birds but he recognised the importance of the series and eventually agreed.A new workshop was set up and a group of new trainees employed to learn his techniques and Dorothy’s imagination and artistic talents were free to go on to greater heights.
Her next models Bluebirds on Apple Blossom and others were produced in ever greater detail and it took all the skills of one of Royal Worcester’s finest artists, Harry Davis, to come up with the colour combinations that would fire to the right blend of tones.Shown opposite is a photograph taken in the works of Royal Worcester where young girls are painting the porcelain figures of the Doughty sisters.
Three other pairs of birds were introduced before the start of the war, each more intricate and realistic than the last. Each set was limited to 500 pairs and they were selling well. Many of them to went American Natural History Museums who were to build up complete sets of her works as the years passed.
The Stark Museum of Art,in Orange, Texas, USA, collection holds the entire series, including unpainted versions.The bird figures were very expensive, the manufacturing costs were high because of their complexity and there were, obviously, only a limited number of units to spread this cost over.But the idea of having a limited edition issue was appealing to the public and the high cost may have even been welcomed as a valuable part of their exclusivity. The principle of the limited edition was being taken up in other areas as well with models by other Worcester artists like Gertner, Lindner, Stabler and others all being released, some to better affect than others.
Freda Doughty was asked by Mr Gimson to produce one or more limited editions of her child figures but Freda steadfastly refused.Her figures did not have the ‘specialist’ appeal of most of the others concerned and she wanted her children to be affordable and available to everybody.Worcester Limited editions may have been the money spinning idea of the moment but mass appeal still very much had its place in the market.
The onset of WW II practically wiped out normal production at the Royal Worcester factory, much of their time was diverted to war work and many of the staff joined the armed forces.But the Doughty birds continued, although at a slower rate, as sales to America were considered to be a valuable part of the war effort.
Dorothy Doughty also made the first four model ‘standards’ for a series of British birds for the home market but these were not put into production until sometime after the end of the war.Dorothy was also heavily involved in war work of her own. She was an ambulance driver and involved in secret experimental work with aircraft production as well as producing the models for her birds.
Details are not known but she fell ill ( possibly Tuberculosis?) during the early to mid -forties which necessitated a family move to the hills around Falmouth in Cornwall.This affected Dorothy for some months but she would not be swayed from her production of figures and had a garden studio where the walls were lined with cages for the birds she studied.
Following the war she made the first of several field trips to America where she would either wander around alone or join organised birding tours, of which she was to build up a good fund of funny stories that she would relate to the factory workers. As Dorothy’s experience and confidence increased she seemed to delight in making her bird figures more and more complex.
As if she was challenging herself and the factories craftsmen, to devise new techniques to imitate natures subtleties. One particular model, the Magnolia Warblers, was much bigger than usual and presented great problems in the firing. Numerous attempts were made to produce the first ‘standard’ but repeatedly all the major pieces would split in the kiln and it was almost decided to scrap the project altogether as being impossible to make. Bob Bradley, the master mould maker at the time, was given permission to do whatever he thought prudent in one last attempt to successfully fire them and this he did by cutting small holes into the bigger pieces to allow the heat compressed air inside to escape rather than split the pieces apart.
Many of the Doughty sisters models chosen for production were dictated by Alex Dickens.He was the agent in charge of their sales and two figures in particular were done at his behest. One, a single Indigo Bunting on a twig was designed to be simple and cheap to produce and sell. Dorothy rebelled against this until a compromise was reached and she was allowed to put a couple of small leaves onto the twig to add a little realism. The model was not well accepted as part of the group and very few were sold.
The second was a pair group of Bob White Quail. Alex wanted something that would appeal to a different market and as these were popular with the American hunting fraternity he again wanted a simple to produce and cheap to make figure.Again they failed miserably but on this occasion it was probably Dorothy’s fault. She wanted to make them more natural and appealing and put a couple of babies alongside the hen bird.The hunters did not like the idea of the birds they shoot being shown with their young and only a very small number were made. These are still very beautiful figures and have great appeal to the other bird lovers but they are, of course, exceedingly rare.
The study of the birds, the making of the original plasticine and acrylic resin models, the cutting up and mould making, and all the other myriad of processes that had to be gone through to produce the Doughty birds meant that there was a long time delay between the first concept and the release of a particular model. To help speed up this process the factory brought in Ronald Van Ruyckevelt specifically to help her. He would spend time with her in Falmouth and then supervise the factory side of the process to take some of the load off of Dorothy’s shoulders. Later, of course, he was to produce many spectacular models in his own right but at the start he was highly instrumental in speeding up the process of manufacture and with his help many more models came on stream.
Between them Dorothy & Freda Doughty were among the most prolific of all Royal Worcester artists & modellersWith Freda Doughty being responsible for over a hundred different figures and Dorothy’s output of birds not falling far short of that number. Their skills and enthusiasm were almost certainly a major factor in the Worcester companys survival and the Doughty sisters will be remembered by lovers of ceramic figurines for a long long time to come.
In 1962, Dorothy was taken ill again and she died at the age of 70.Some accounts say she died from a fall.Many of her models were still in the design stage and these models were released by Royal Worcester for a further six years until they were all finished.Freda Doughty continued in good health for another ten years but was to release no more models of her enchanting children.
THE DOUGHTY SISTERS FIGURINES
Shown in this section is a series of figurines by Freda as wall as a photo of her.There is a list of all their figurines on the internet with images of most if not all of them. What I have shown here is just a very small sample to give you an appreciation of their artistic abilities.
As mentioned above the Stark Museum of Art in Orange,Texas has an extensive collection of their work, as does the Worcester Porcelain Museum. Examples of their work can be found in many antique shops, museums and galleries throughout the world. Why not go to the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery and see if they have any in their collection. Several books about the works of Royal Worcester have been written over the years including “The Amazing Birds of Dorothy Doughty-a Critical Appreciation’ by George Savage 1967. Examples of the works of Dorothy and Freda often come up for auction and bring high values. Their work is actively sought after by collectors and the fact that their figurines were produced in limited quantities has done much to increase both the collectability and value.
An article from an American newspaper dated Mach 22,1962 entitled ‘Realistic Porcelain Birds Highlight Historic House’ give in part the following “ Visitors to the 227 year old residence in historic Charlestone, North Carolina will see an unusual display of English porcelain birds…the residence of Mr and Mrs Henry P. Staats. It contains Mrs Staats collection of Dorothy Doughty birds and flowers.In the late 1930’s Mrs Staats bought her first Doughty ceramic made at Royal Worcester and now has a complete set=6 alpine flowers; 4 pairs of blossoms; 25 pairs of American birds and a single elf owl.Missing are only two pairs of birds, one of which she had ordered but arrived broken. Dorothy was an English ornithologist and ceramist who began creating her life sized American birds in about 1935, in conjunction with Royal Worcester ,solely for sale in the USA.The output was in limited quantities.It was advertised that only a certain number of any set was to be executed and when the number was completed the moulds were broken. They are now collectors items. It takes Dorothy almost two years to complete a model from original sketch through plasticine model.Then Royal Worcester begins its collaborations-almost 80 artists/craftsmen combine their abilities to create the finished work.The mould for a single study can number as many as 40.At first Dorothy worked from captured live birds in her aviary in England. Laws governing the shipment of live birds, being strict as they are, soon exhausted this source.A dedicated ornithologist, she refused to work from mounted specimens. In 1953 under the auspices of the Audubon Society she came to America to study warblers and blossoms….”. The article ends with information about the collection and the collector.
The back of pieces by Fred I are usually marked ‘Modelled by F.G. Doughty’with the Worcester factory mark and mould number. The decorative plates by Dorothy showing birds has on the back ‘The Birds of Dorothy Doughty’ with the Worcester mark in the middle and at the bottom a faximily of Dorothy’s signature. The name of the piece and mound number are also given. A book entitled ‘The Study of Royal Worecster’s Doughty Birds’ has in it a preface in the hand of Dorothy Doughty and is a fine reference book on the topic.
The National Library of Australia conducted an interview of Ken Pound in 2010. Part of the taped and trsnscribed interview made mention of the Doughty sisters, which I have summarized here. Ken Pound was just a boy at the time and lived at the orphanage at St Budoc’s Boys Home in Falmouth, Ken had been born May 19,1936 in Devon and when asked if he had any happy memories she stated “Yes, one or two people outside of the orphanage, Dorothy and Freda Doughty, the spinster daughters of Charles Doughty the explorer.When asked how me met them he replied “ Dorothy was a ceramicist if world repute and her sister Freda took me under her wing and I spent time with both women.They just lived a street around the other part of the road in Falmouth at Carino.She took a shine to me.Freda used to come to the orphanage every 2nd Tuesday and teach us china clay modelling…She took an interest in me I believe because of my interest in gardening, flowers and animals.She used to invite me to the big lawns of this lovely manor house where they lived and then she paid me to go to Lakes’ Cornish Potteries for a week.Every day she travelled up to me, up to Truro,the capital of Cornwall and she often corresponded with me and asked if I had every taken up pottery-but I never did.Freda and Dorothy lived in cliff top house at Falmouth with a garden studio who’s walls were lined with birdcages….”
With this I end my coverage of the Doughty family, and quite an interesting family they were!
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